Perceptions of conformity during the student teaching placement
Marchment, Natalie Mary
Master of Education
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The purpose of this study was to examine the issue of conformity and the relationship between student teachers and associate teachers during the pre-service practicum. The three questions that guided this research included: (a) Did associate teachers expect pre-service teachers to mirror their practices during the practicum? (b) Did student teachers describe and expectation of conformity within their field experience?; and (c) What circumstances during the practicum increased the likelihood of conformity? This study was conducted with a sample of student teachers and associate teachers during the 1999 - 2000 school term at one Ontario university, and it consisted of two phases of data collection. The first stage involved preliminary interviews with one student teacher on two separate occasions. The data from these interviews guided the surveys that were distributed to student teachers and associate teachers in the second phase of data collection. This study found that associate teachers indicated that conformity occurred, and a fraction of these participants clearly expressed a desire for this behaviour. Other associate teachers may have implied this expectation through communication, feedback, and their actions. The student teachers suggested that conformity occurred in smaller numbers. Some participants expressed that it was a requirement of the practicum, while others felt that conformity occurred out of respect for the associate teacher. With reference to the factors that contributed to conformity, a perceived expectation of conformity and an associate teacher with more than 20 years of experience all increased the rate of conformity with this group of participants. If student teachers observed for one week at the start of their practicum and then proceeded to teach 3 - 4 lessons per day, they reduced their risk o f conformity. Additional variables aside from the ones presently stated were also examined within this research.